Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time


The Greatest Tearjerkers of All-Time
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Brief Tearjerker Scene Description

Ladyhawke (1985)

  • in the film's conclusion, the joyous tearful reunion-celebration in the front of the cathedral of two lovers: Captain Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer) and Isabeau d'Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) - after the Bishop of Aquila's (John Wood) curse had been lifted
  • Navarre remarked to Isabeau: "You cut your hair!" - in the scene, their companions: the escaped thief Phillipe Gaston (aka "the Mouse") (Matthew Broderick) and cloistered monk Father Imperius (Leo McKern) tearfully looked on and then exited, as Navarre embraced and lifted Isabeau high into the air and spun her around
Isabeau Lifted into the Air and Spun Around

Reunion of Captain Navarre and Isabeau

The Land Before Time (1988)

  • in this G-rated, animated feature (Don Bluth-directed / Spielberg / Lucas-produced), the emotional, heart-stirring scene of the death of the Mother (voice of Helen Shaver) of young Aptosaurus Littlefoot (voice of Gabriel Damon), during a great earthquake that split the land. She was mortally wounded after fighting off Tyrannosaurus Rex 'Sharptooth.' During a nighttime thunderstorm, she reminded him about the Great Valley before dying: (Mother: "Dear sweet Littlefoot. Do you remember the way to the Great Valley?" Littlefoot: "I guess so. But why do I have to know? You're gonna be with me." Mother: "I'll be with you, even if you can't see me." Littlefoot: "What do you mean, if I can't see you? I can always see you." Mother: "Littlefoot, let your heart guide you. It whispers. So listen closely..." Littlefoot: "Mother? Mother?")

    [Note: Realizing that the scene would be devastating for family audiences, the film-makers added a post-death scene to soften the emotional impact.]

  • soon after in the post-death scene, a depressed, angered and confused, newly-orphaned Littlefoot accidentally slid down a ravine, where he bumped into a wise old armored dinosaur named Rooter (voice of Pat Hingle, who also narrated the film) who consoled and advised him upon learning of his mother's death: (Rooter: "What's your problem? You're not hurt." Littlefoot: "It's not fair. She should have known better. That was 'Sharptooth.' It was all her fault." Rooter: "All who's fault?" Littlefoot: "Mother's." Rooter: "Oh. I see. I see." Littlefoot: "Why did I wander so far from home?" Rooter: "Oh, it's not your fault. It's not your Mother's fault. Now, you pay attention to old Rooter. It is nobody's fault. The great circle of life has begun. But you see, not all of us arrive together at the end." Littlefoot: "What'll I do? I miss her so much." Rooter: "And you'll always miss her, but she'll always be with you as long as you remember the things she taught you. In a way, you'll never be apart, for you are still a part of each other"); and then when Littlefoot complained of a stomach-ache, Rooter added: "Well, that too will go in time, little feller. Only in time"

Death of the Mother of Young Aptosaurus Littlefoot

Littlefoot Consoled by Rooter

Lassie Come Home (1943)


  • the scene in which Lassie (Pal) was separated from her loving young owner Joe (Roddy McDowell) when his poor family was forced to sell the dog to the rich Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce)
  • the teary scene in which Lassie, having traveled 1000 miles, returned to Joe and was reunited

Lassie's Return to Joe

The Last American Virgin (1982)

  • in this teen sex comedy's concluding segment after cute, curly-haired newcomer classmate Karen (Diane Franklin) had become pregnant (her shallow boyfriend Rick (Steve Antin) had made love to her under the school's bleachers and then dumped her when he found out), socially-awkward and sensitive nice-guy pizza delivery boy Gary (Lawrence Monoson) - suffering from unrequited love - helped her to acquire an expensive $250 abortion by selling some of his possessions (including his stereo equipment) and borrowing money in a montage/abortion sequence (to the tune of U2's "I Will Follow")
  • however, in the downbeat, unexpected, tearjerking ending, after Gary had taken care of her for the weekend in his grandmother's empty house and expressed how much he loved her and embraced her (and was planning on giving her a birthday present of a gold-heart locket with To Karen With Love inscribed on the back), she was back in Rick's arms at her own birthday party where a stunned Gary saw her passionately making out with him.
  • when the two realized that Gary was watching them, they just stared back blankly, leaving a heartbroken Gary crying at the sight as he left and drove away into the darkness in his pizza delivery station wagon - the film's ending!

Gary's Care for Karen

Gary Stunned that Karen Was Back With Rick

Heartbroken Gary

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

  • the romantic farewell scene in a cave behind a cascading waterfall between Nathaniel "Hawkeye" Poe (Daniel Day-Lewis) and a redcoat colonel's headstrong daughter Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) as they were pursued by a Huron war party, with Hawkeye's promise: ("...You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you!...")
  • the poignant eulogy by Chingachgook (Russell Means) for his son Uncas (Eric Schweig) after avenging his death by killing Magua (Wes Studi) - he spoke the film's final lines of dialogue: ("Great Spirit, Maker of All Life. A warrior goes to you swift and straight as an arrow shot into the sun. Welcome him and let him take his place at the council fire of my people. He is Uncas, my son. Tell them to be patient and ask death for speed; for they are all there but one - I, Chingachgook - Last of the Mohicans")
Eulogy for Son Uncas by Chingachgook With Hawkeye Looking On
  • the tearjerking moment after Chingachgook finished his speech, when he gave a tortured look to his adoptive European-born white son Hawkeye as they looked out to the New York wilderness

Under Waterfall, Hawkeye's Words to Cora: "I will find you"

The Last Picture Show (1971)

  • while fishing at the town's old tank dam, ex-cowboy Sam 'The Lion' (Oscar-winning Ben Johnson) reminisced about a girl he swam nude with one day: ("...she wanted to swim the horses across this tank. Kind of a crazy thing to do, but we done it anyway. She bet me a silver dollar she could beat me across. She did. This old horse I was ridin' didn't want to take the water. But she was always lookin' for somethin' to do like that. Somethin' wild. I'll bet she's still got that silver dollar")
  • Sonny Crawford's (Timothy Bottoms) mentally-retarded brother Billy (Sam Bottoms) suffered a senseless death -- hit by a truck in a hit-and-run accident -- Sonny gave an anguished cry to the insensitive bystanders: ("He was sweepin', ya sons of bitches. He was sweepin'!"), before covering Billy's body with his letter jacket
Ruth's Forgiveness Toward Sonny
  • the ignored, humiliated and abandoned coach's wife Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman) lashed out at Sonny for leaving her for many months: ("What am I doing apologizin' to you? Why am I always apologizin' to you, ya little bastard?...") before empathically realizing Sonny's pain: ("Never you mind, honey, never you mind...")

Sam's Memories of Skinny-Dipping

Billy's Death

Legends of the Fall (1994)

  • the scene in which family patriarch Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins), unable to speak after having suffered a stroke ("He can't talk now"), wrote on a chalkboard: "AM HAPPY" - to middle son Tristan (Brad Pitt) on his return to the ranch after years of self-exile

Tristan's Return to Father

  • the accidental death of Tristan's "half-breed" wife Isabel Two (Karina Lombard) by a ricocheting bullet
  • the reconciliation and hug between the Colonel and his eldest, politician son Alfred Ludlow (Aidan Quinn) when Alfred saved his family from mobster John T. O'Banion's (Robert Wisden) gang

Isabel Two's Accidental Death

Reconciliation Between the Colonel and Eldest Son Alfred

Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)

  • the unrequited love and sorrow of Lisa (Joan Fontaine) - the film title's "unknown woman," revealed in the opening scene in a letter to womanizing pianist Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan), and addressed from St. Catherine's Hospital - and its startling first statement (in female voice-over): "By the time you read this letter, I may be dead"; after another line: "If this reaches you, you will know how I became yours when you didn't know who I was or even that I existed," there was a segue to a flashback to tell the story
  • the scene in which as a shy, fourteen year old girl, Lisa stood in fright behind a glass door, holding it open for the pianist she had fallen in love with
  • the scene on the staircase in which Lisa looked down and witnessed Stefan's return home in the early morning hours with his latest woman-of-the-evening
  • Lisa's one night of romantic bliss with Stefan including his purchase of a single white rose for her
  • the sequence at the Viennese fairgrounds - their cyclorama ride, dancing in a deserted dance-hall, her kneeling at the keyboard as he played, and her return up the stairs to his apartment
  • their goodbye at the train station when Lisa said: "I'll be here when you get back" as Stefan falsely promised to be gone only two weeks ("It won't be long. I'll be back in two weeks"); however, Lisa's voice-over of her letter recalled: "Two weeks. Stefan, how little you knew yourself. That train was taking you out of my life"
  • the sequence in which Lisa left her husband, wealthy, middle-aged Austrian aristocrat named Johann Stauffer (Marcel Journet) (who accepted her son born out of wedlock), and returned with a large bouquet of white roses to offer herself to her pianist love

Train Station Goodbye

Flashback to Younger Lisa
  • the touching scene (and ending scene) years later of Stefan looking back and remembering the enamoured young girl shyly holding the door open for him

"Unknown Woman's" Letter

Shy Lisa with Stefan

Lisa Watching From Staircase

Kneeling at the Keyboard

Greatest Film Tearjerkers, Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title)
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